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Labor fails on push for bank commission

AAP logoAAP 30/08/2016 Elise Scott

Federal Labor has failed to convince parliament to push for a royal commission into Australia's banking sector.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten on Wednesday called on parliament to recognise that scandals by the banks had ripped off Australians, including retirees.

Outspoken independent MP Bob Katter backed the move.

But Nationals MP George Christensen launched a counter move, amending the Mr Shorten's motion to note the coalition's commitment to cracking down on bank misconduct.

The government eventually used its numbers - 75-73 - to win the day but not before Mr Shorten accused the prime minister of protecting the banks.

He argued a royal commission was the only avenue with the necessary coercive powers and jurisdiction to fix the sector.

"(The prime minister) and his coalition are running a protection racket to protect big banks of Australia," he told parliament on Wednesday.

"Australians are sick and tired of the scandals being investigated after the harm is done."

Mr Christensen's counter motion noted most of the banking scandals occurred on Mr Shorten's watch when he was the minister responsible for financial services.

Mr Shorten neither initiated a royal commission nor "took meaningful action" against the banks when he was responsible for the sector.

"They're lions in opposition, little mice in government," Mr Christensen said of Labor.

The MP revealed government plans to establish a "one-stop shop" to rule on consumer complaints about the financial sector.

The coalition is also planning to haul big banks before a parliamentary committee at least once a year.

But Labor wants to know how widespread the problems are in the sector and whether Australian regulators are equipped to monitor the banks, which could be investigated by a royal commission.

The series of motions and votes held up government legislation for just under two hours on the first day of parliamentary business since the July 2 election.

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